Mondo grass on a hillside.
“Cost effective”—I like that phrase. A few years ago I was doing some work for a rather wealthy client on a very well landscaped estate. My job was to fix problem areas. On one project I asked the client, “How shall I approach this project and what is the budget?” He smiled and replied, “John, the key phrase is “cost effective.” I thought about it and realized that he was asking me to figure out the best method at the smallest cost. It followed that he was not asking for the cheapest fix but for a method of solving the problem that was totally desirable, compatible with the rest of the landscape, and as inexpensive as possible. This was an important concept for me and I have remembered it ever since. Here’s a “before” picture of the latest project for another client:
A couple of weeks ago, one of my clients asked me for my thoughts on planting the ugly, eroded hillside (above). This client is a good repeat customer of mine and he doesn’t mind spending money on his lovely yard, but he certainly doesn’t mind saving money either. I looked at the hillside, looked around at the rest of the yard, looked at him, and said, “cost effective?” He smiled and nodded. I turned and pointed at a stand of mondo grass that had been planted (by me) about 25 years ago. “If we use that” I said, “we won’t have to buy any plants.” Here’s a picture of the bed of mondo grass (ophiopogon japonicus).
We started the project by cleaning the area, removing dead junipers (not planted by yours truly), and raking out the area to smooth it up. In some places we had to knock down mounds of dirt with a mattock and then rake the dirt into holes. Here is the prepared site:
A mulch of pine straw was applied. Sometimes it is easier to apply the pine straw before planting. This was a case in point. It is easier to plant small plants through the mulch than it is to spread the mulch around newly planted material. The mulched already looked good and was ready to be planted.
Using a mattock, we dug clumps of mondo grass from the existing bed. The clumps were dug up in random locations throughout the bed so that you really couldn’t tell that they were missing. Here’s a start:
The clumps were divided into smaller divisions
We cut the tops out of the smaller divisions to encourage bottom growth and then stacked them up so that they could be easily planted. We had harvested somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 divisions. I put down a basic 10-10-10 fertilizer and we began planting
It took about 5 hours to plant the divisions using a hand held digger and a mattock. We found that the job went faster with one person digging and another doing the planting. Here’s what it looked like:
Now, in my mind, that was a cost effective job. The mondo grass will grow in solid-it’s a pretty easy plant to grow. We turned on the sprinkler and stood back to look at the job with grins on our faces. I later looked up the price for mondo grass divisions and found them for $1.00 apiece. This means that with a little digging and separating, we saved around $2,000.00 on the project. Here’s the equation: The project looks good + the plants will grow in and stop the erosion + we used materials at hand = cost effective. Problem solved.
You may wish to see a previous article which explains the dynamics of plant pruning: Pruning as an art form-the basics of pruning
If you haven’t pruned your crape myrtles, check out Zen and the Art of Crape Myrtle pruning
You may also want to re visit “Lenten roses, planting grass, and the early spring vegetable garden
If you would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist, in your yard, Please contact me by email
As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?